Sexy Hair launched a campaign with the tag line “Styles may change but Sexy is forever,” in 2013. Using images of timeless sex symbol Marilyn Monroe alongside quotes from the iconic beauty, the campaign has achieved global success for the California-based company, according to Sexy Hair Vice President of Marketing and Education Jennifer Weiderman. “It stops people. They want to take a look at the hair and the messaging and check out what the association is,” she says. “People actually bring our ads into the salon and ask for the products.”
The campaign has been successful in large part because of the ways in which it encourages active participation, both from beauty professionals and the buying public, featuring a series of events and promotions designed to engage and inspire. A social media campaign invited fans to “Show us your best Marilyn,” with followers uploading pictures of themselves as Marilyn Monroe to the company’s website. Salons staged in-store costume and styling events and Sexy Hair awarded one stylist a trip to Los Angeles, with a stay in the Roosevelt Hotel (where Monroe’s ghost is said to roam); a Marilyn makeover; and a styling class with Sexy Hair Artistic Director Rafe Hardy.
In September the company celebrated the 60-year anniversary of the famous scene from the film The Seven Year Itch, where Monroe’s white halter dress is blown up by a gust of wind from a subway grating, with a public event that was seen by millions as the company recreated the moment on the original spot of the scene, New York City’s Lexington Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets.
Spurred by what the company sees as a growth in the men’s grooming sector, the company recently announced the addition of a new brand ambassador: James Dean. “We were looking for someone who had a big influence on men’s hair and style who’s still relevant today,” says Weiderman. The campaign will include similar look-alike contests and online initiatives, but will also focus in a bigger way on getting testers into salons. “Men are becoming much more engaged, buying for themselves more and more,” she says. “And they like to sample. If their stylist tells them a product is great, and uses it on them, they’re more likely to buy.”
The company hopes the iconic image of “The King of Cool” will speak to consumers’ inner rebel. “James Dean did things his own way,” says Weiderman. “That’s very appealing.”